Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Flaring is the process of burning off natural gas (methane) that is produced in all petroleum and natural gas fields. Some flaring is necessary to release the pressure that arises when natural gas is pumped into pipes. But, most of it is simply wasted, a burning off of precious fuel that could be used for other purposes, such as providing heat and electricity. It has been calculated (according to a BBC program on the subject) that 95% of the flaring that occurs is unnecessary and the amount of natural gas that is currently wasted could produce b$30-90 for the oil/gas producers. Also, by saving this much flaring the production of CO2 could be reduced more than all other methods that have been recommended together.
The worst culprits in this flaring waste are Nigeria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Areas around the Niger Gulf in Nigeria are extremely poor, and often have no electricity, whereas in fact the gas that is wasted in flaring could support them in cheap electricity for ever, and that could help support not only an improved standard of living, but allow them to work and produce for themselves. To prove this a pilot project was set up on the oil rich island of Bonny that is working extremely well providing cheap electricity all hours of the day and night. This is the way of the future, to make sure that such waste is turned into productive energy. Another use of the unused natural gas that is produced in petroleum fields is to transform it into methanol. This requires a plant that costs millions of dollars to set up, but pays for itself quickly with this valuable industrial solvent. Such a plant is now operating in Siberia and is expected to be copied all over the world.
One of the few things that are visible from space are the thousands of gas flares in the oil-producing parts of the world. They are one of the main sources of pollution. With the oil-producing countries realising how much they are wasting thru flaring, new laws will be promulgated to limit the amount of flaring, and this will greatly improve the production of energy as well as reducing environmental pollution world-wide.


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